Original Article

Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 24, Issue 10, pp 1095-1100

First online:

Use of Colon Cancer Testing in Rural Colorado Primary Care Practices

  • Linda OverholserAffiliated withDepartment of Internal Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Colorado-Denver Email author 
  • , Linda ZittlemanAffiliated withDepartment of Family Medicine, University of Colorado-Denver
  • , Allison KempeAffiliated withDepartment of Pediatrics, University of Colorado-DenverThe Children’s Outcomes Research Program, The Children’s Hospital
  • , Caroline Bublitz EmsermannAffiliated withDepartment of Family Medicine, University of Colorado-Denver
  • , Desiree B. FroshaugAffiliated withDepartment of Family Medicine, University of Colorado-Denver
  • , Deborah S. MainAffiliated withThe Colorado Health Outcomes Program, University of Colorado-Denver
  • , Rodrigo Araya-GuerraAffiliated withDepartment of Family Medicine, University of Colorado-Denver
  • , Maret FelzienAffiliated withCommunity Advisory Council, High Plains Research Network
  • , John M. WestfallAffiliated withDepartment of Family Medicine, University of Colorado-Denver

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People living in rural areas may be less likely to be up to date (UTD) with screening guidelines for colorectal cancer (CRC).


To determine (1) rates of being UTD with screening or ever having had a test for CRC and (2) correlates for testing among patients living in a rural area who visit a provider.


Cross-sectional survey.


Five hundred seventy patients aged 50 years and older who visited their health-care provider in High Plains Research Network (HPRN) practices.


(1) Ever having had a CRC screening test, (2) being UTD with CRC screening, and (3) intention to get tested.


The survey completion rate was 65%; 71% of patients had ever had any CRC screening test, while 52% of patients were UTD. Correlates of intending to get tested included having a family history of CRC, having a doctor recommend a test, knowing somebody who got tested, and believing that testing for CRC gives one a feeling of being in control of their health. Of those who had never had a CRC screening test, 12% planned on getting tested in the future, while 55% of those who were already up to date intended to be tested again (p < 0.001).


Prevalence of being UTD with CRC testing in the HPRN was on par with statewide CRC testing rates, but over three quarters of patients who had not yet been screened had no intention of getting tested for CRC, despite having a medical home.


colorectal cancer screening rural health care Practice-Based Research Network (PBRN)